It's 2012: The Hot Poop on the
New Zappa Reissues
(or: What We Knew and When We
In August 2012, the unthinkable happened: the Zappa catalog got
again, and this site suddenly had a
renewed purpose. The first question on everybody's mind is "do I
need any of these new CDs?" The individual album pages will eventually
contain in-depth answers. Here, however, you'll find your one stop shop for quick and
pithy answers...in two formats, no less:
First, a handy-dandy set of tables (well, err, one for now).
Second, a list!
In general, the albums worth repurchasing are ones that are new analog
transfers, plus "Them or Us." The albums that already had "good"
versions (YAWYI, Tinseltown, Joe's Garage, SUAPYG) may be marginal for
Note that the 2012 compilation, "Understanding America," does
not use the 2012 audio; instead, it's a mishmash of older
variations. Do not judge the 2012 reissues based on that compilation!
Warning: Some of this content is still speculative, and it is ever
all of the differences are as-yet accounted for (because not all of the discs are out yet,
although everything is currently available on iTunes). Also, because
this is intended as a quick reference, artwork differences and
super-minor differences are generally not accounted for.
What You Need and Why: The Table (Assuming Ownership of
the 1995 Rykodisc Remasters)
||Why It's Necessary
||New remaster; no reverb, no mock stereo.
||Original vinyl mix, vastly different from
all other CDs (which you should keep)
|Burnt Weeny Sandwich
||New master, no digital reverb, better sound.
|Weasels Ripped My Flesh
||New master, no reverb or right-channel glitches, but old
CD has extended versions
||New master, no digital reverb, no glitches,
WAY better sound.
|Fillmore East, 1971
||New master, no reverb/glitches, WILLIE PART
|Just Another Band from LA
||Reverts to the vinyl version (not everyone
is thrilled, though)
||No more reverb, sounds better.
|The Grand Wazoo
||No more reverb or exxagerated treble, sounds
better. Some copies are defective, though; be careful.
||New master, no digital reverb.
||New master, LP version, no digital reverb.
Probably optional for Au20 owners.
|One Size Fits All
||New master, no digital reverb. Probably
optional for Au20 owners.
||New master, no digital reverb. Some aren't
quite pleased with the result, but it is still an upgrade
from the previous edition.
||New master, no reverb, FINALLY sounds good.
||New master. Keep your old disc for the
||Reverts to the instrumental vinyl version.
Keep your old disc for the vocals.
||New master, no glitches or weird edits.
||New master, improved sound quality only. (The old version wasn't bad, but this will probably be an upgrade for most people.)
||Sounds as good as the 1998 Ryko, but with
odd segues eliminated.
|Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar
||Reported to be a sound quality upgrade, and
eliminates the crossfade before "Stucco Homes."
|You Are What You Is
||Sounds as good as the 1998 Ryko, but with
"Dumb All Over" edit eliminated.
|Them or Us
||No more right-channel glitches, but keep
your old disc for the extended title track.
Legend: Green means buy. Blue means buy, but keep your old
disc, too. Purple means
we're uncertain. Red means
don't bother. Grey means "judgment call." Albums are listed in date order and may become
prettier later on.
- Freak Out!:
Same as the old CDs. The vinyl mix is on MoFo (either version).
- Absolutely Free:
A huge upgrade and a new transfer; the tape shows its age, but
whatever. No more reverb!
- We're Only In It For
the Money: Same as the 1995 CD. Unless, god forbid, your only copy of this is the remix from the 1980s-era CDs, you don't need this.
- Lumpy Gravy:
Same as the 1995 CD (with the mono glitch, unfortunately).
- Cruising with Ruben
and the Jets: Same as the old CDs. The vinyl mix is on Greasy
- Uncle Meat:
Same as the old CDs (exception: those with the old Zappa Records disc
will find this to be a slight upgrade, but any old Ryko would be the
same upgrade). The vinyl version has not been released on CD.
- Hot Rats:
Reverts to the original vinyl mix for the first time--essential. But
keep your old disc for the remix.
- Burnt Weeny Sandwich:
New remaster; eliminates the reverb and restores the "Little House"
intro. Get it!
- Weasels Ripped My
Flesh: New remaster, fixing (among other things) the bad right
channel. Your old disc (any) is essential for some slightly extended
- Chungas's Revenge: New remaster. Removes the digital reverb and
fixes the right channel. Great!
East, 1971: New remaster. Removes reverb and echo and restores
"Willie the Pimp Pt. 2."
Another Band from LA: New remaster. Removes reverb and fixes the
stereo spectrum. Some online have panned it for being too loud and
- 200 Motels: N/A; not yet available. Planned for
release (at least strongly hinted),
but no details have emerged.
- Waka/Jawaka: Reverts to the dry vinyl version. A great upgrade.
- The Grand Wazoo:
Still has the switched tracks of post-1990 versions, but otherwise
sounds like the vinyl. However, because some people are having trouble
playing the new CD, you may want to keep one of your old versions
Sensation: Reverts to the dry vinyl version. A great upgrade.
Reverts to the original stereo mix (all non-Au20 CDs are made from the
quad mix with added processing). New digital transfer. Those with the
Au20 (or a stealth equivalent) can view this as optional, unless the
glitch at the beginning of "Debris" really bothers you. You'll want to
keep one of your older discs for the quad reduction.
- Roxy and Elsewhere:
Same as the old CDs. Find a first-version Barking Pumpkin or a Zappa
Records CD for the original mix of "Cheepnis," which is replaced here
by a remix.
- One Size
New transter. Eliminates the reverb from the old disc. Those with Au20
discs (or the apparently very common stealth regular version) can view
this as an option; the EQ is different, but it isn't a huge departure.
- Bongo Fury:
New transfer, reverts to the unprocessed vinyl version. Some online
were calling it "weird," but until we get deets, this is firmly in the
- Zoot Allures:
New remaster; early word is positive.
Different artwork, different tracklisting (it loses the bonus tracks),
sourced from the 1996 digital master. The.
- Zappa In
New York: iTunes samples suggest that this is the same as the
- Studio Tan:
New master, but you'll want to keep your old disc for the "Greggary"
- Sleep Dirt:
New remaster. NO VOCALS, nor
any Chad Wackerman. Keep your old disc for the "Hutchentoot" vocal
tracks and the Regyptian remix (if you don't already have it on Lather).
Yerbouti: New remaster that fixes right-channel
problems and restores I'm So Cute. Been getting raves. Get it.
Favorites: Reported to match the old CDs, "right down to the reversed channels."
New remaster. This is getting good reviews, but as the old CD sounded
pretty good--and as this is rarely a discount-price title--those with
the older CD may not need to run to this. Insane completists will note
that the new CD programs the between-sides silence differently and uses
a slightly--SLIGHTLY--different version of "Joe's Garage," so completists who indulge in the new copy will want to hang on to an
older edition, too.
Rebellion: New remaster. Sounds as good as the 1998 Spencer remaster, but eliminates the iffy crossfades. This is definitive so far.
Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar: Regarded as a sound upgrade at the
moment. Eliminates the weird segue before "Stucco Homes."
Super-essential for those with the old, Zappa Records CD from 1990,
which we just realized sucks eggs.
- You Are
What You Is: Matches the best qualities of the EMI CD (full album, no edits) with the 1998 Spencer CD (great sound). Definitive.
Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch: Same as the old CDs, or so we hear.
- The Man
From Utopia: The same as the remix on
the old, non-EMI CDs.
- Baby Snakes: Uncertain.
We have precious little info about this album, period.
- LSO: This was a digital
recording and is probably the same as the 1995 CD. Earlier CDs
contained a different mix of the relevant performances.
- The Perfect Stranger: Same as the post-Barking Pumpkin CDs. Unless you only have the EMI CD, you don't need this.
- Them Or Us:
the right-channel audio problems and reverts to the first version of
"Them Or Us," without the digital glitch at the beginning of the track.
Probably worth an upgrade for most people, but hang on to your '95
or Zappa Records discs for the extended, alternative mix of "Them Or
- Thing-Fish: Signs suggest that
this is the most "recent" version of the album, so you don't need to
purchase this if you have any disc released after 1990.
- Francesco Zappa: Unsure.
- Mothers of Prevention: Unsure,
but unlikely to be any different (from the 1995, at least; earlier
versions were slightly
- Does Humor Belong in Music:
The same as the 1995 disc, but with a variation on the 1980s cover. Those
with only the old EMI disc may want to grab it, as it's a different mix.
- Jazz from Hell: The same as the old discs
- Guitar: Confirmed identical to the old discs..
have confirmation that at least "Volume 2" is exactly the same as the
old disc. This trend probably extends to the rest of them.
- Broadway the Hard Way:
Same as the old discs.
but unlikely to be any different (although the old Barking Pumpkin and
1995 Ryko had different EQ).
- Make a Jazz Noise Here: Unsure, but
unlikely to be any different.
Psychotics: Unsure, but unlikely to be any different.
- Ahead of
Their Time: Same as the old discs.
Yellow Shark: Same as the old discs.
- Have I
Offended Someone?: Same as the old discs.
- The Lost Episodes:
Same as the old discs (and reported to have problematic liner notes).
- Mystery Disc:
Same as the old discs (and reported to have severely problematic liner